Thursday, 24 August 2017

Chariot of Worms

The weird, meandering tunnels found in dwarven mines stand in stark contrast to the orderly architecture of the masters. They weren't carved by masons, nor by water, but by void worms.

A mature void worm is 50' long, with a body made of nothingness. Where it lies, no rock exists. It inches forward slowly, occasionally intersecting. Once it has passed, there is undisturbed solid rock once more.

The appearance of a void worm often goes unnoticed. They're silent, and whatever they eat, they are uninterested in surface dwellers. They're heralded by nothing more than a circular opening appearing in a wall, enlarging to the full diameter of the worm, revealing an ever-shortening tunnel.

An hour or more later, when the worm crosses whatever room or corridor it blundered into, a similar breach opens on the far side.

At the tip of each tunnel is a seam of gold, which to the untrained eye appears to be a natural part of the rock. A thick, rich vein of pure gold! But alas, mining this kills the worm. The worm's nothing-body begins to rot immediately.

Crumbling, porous rock encroaches on all sides, replacing the smooth tunnel with crunching, delicate spurs of natural rock. In a few weeks, the void has closed completely.

The brave or foolhardy might run along its body, using it as a momentary glimpse into the surrounding rock, to other caverns or true seams of value, but the risk of being trapped is ever-present.

Wise miners let the worms pass.

The Four-Lamp Chariot

According to the Ricalu, it was the Jorn that first figured out the worms' dislike of moonlight. How, nobody knows, but a lamp stuffed with lune moths will halt them completely.

Four such lanterns, arranged as the corners of a tetrahedron three paces in height and held in a frame of iron, can imprison a worm completely. A grinding (but stable) tetrahedral 'room' results, with the void worm's gold seam meandering around the rock face as it seeks escape.

By judiciously dimming one of the lamps, the worm rebels and expands in that direction. The frame is dragged with it, slowly pushing the chamber through solid rock.

By this method, many secret spaces can be reached.

The Queen's Chariot and the City of Worms

Of course, a single worm will only take you so far. According to Titardinal, the Queen of the Jorn rode in a six-lamp chariot driven by four worms (one a juvenile). With all four pushing, it was so rapid it bore her retinue through the bones of the earth at a brisk jog!

But even this pales against Jorn legend. Supposedly, the ancient masters of the deep forged twelve mighty beacons, and enclosed so many worms into an icosohedral cavern so massive it held an entire city, bathed in flickering lune-light.

So potent and numerous were its worms that the masters of the city could relocate it at will, leaping from vault to vault overnight. Iron-clad Jorn would pour out of the ground and butcher any who refused tribute.

A Word to Sorcerers

However, not even the sages of the Lycaeum were able to conclusively determine if this underworld city really existed, let alone where to find it. Their program of chariot-experimentation under Bashkanal was a failure. Surface sorcerers have no maps, and no guides of the underworld, and many esteemed lives were lost in collisions with voids, earthblood, and worse before the remaining lune lamps were returned to their posts in the great brass dome.